Diversity is a hot-button topic in today’s dance world. It’s often linked to conversations about the rise of Misty Copeland, and there have been many notable outreach efforts, such as Charlotte Ballet’s partnership with Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre’s Project Plié, The Washington Ballet’s recently launched program called Let’s Dance Together and the work done by the International Association of Blacks in Dance. Now, the American Dance Institute has launched its Future Artists Initiative, a scholarship program to fund training for racially diverse dancers. In a press release from ADI, the organization’s executive director Adrienne Willis said, “We feel ADI’s Future Artists Initiative will make a great impact on the future of the art form, ensuring the stages of tomorrow reflect the rich diversity of American talent.”
After conducting extensive research with the help of Dance/USA and IABD, the organizations selected 40 pre-professional schools that may nominate up 10 students for financial assistance. In order to be eligible for funding this fall, schools have until April 15 to nominate their students, whose parent/guardian must complete an application by May 15. Perhaps what’s most unique about this program is its ongoing nature: As long as recipients continue their pre-professional training, they will continue to receive up to $5,000 annually until they turn 18. The money is intended not only to supplement dance training, but also assist with other associated costs (transportation, housing, shoes, clothing, etc.).
On the surface, this may sound like an attempt to use money to solve a problem, but the Future Artists Initiative seems to be digging deeper. Early in the process, they reached out to over 600 dance schools across the country to determine why talented students aren’t always able to continue their training. Over 60 schools reported the high costs of tuition, supplies and transportation as the most prohibitive factors in keeping low-income families from quality dance education.
ADI’s research also linked ballet’s lack of diversity to an absence of role models that students can identify with. In “Diversity Is the New Black” in our January issue, writer Theresa Ruth Howard pointed to the very same issue, along with other changes that need to happen to eradicate ballet’s diversity problem.
For more information about the Future Artists Initiative, including ADI’s research, click here.
Source: Dance Magazine.
Looking for advice on how to build and maintain an engaged audience for your dance company? Join Dance/USA for its live webinar series, where you can share ideas with a variety of artists and presenters on everything from building community to including disabled audiences. The biweekly series began on February 10, with talks on site-specific work, establishing a following and cultivating new dance fans, and will continue with its next session on March 23.
To attend the free webinar, pre-register here and tune in at 2pm EST. After a short presentation on each subject, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions, share ideas and brainstorm with other artists, activists, educators and presenters. The upcoming topics promise to be stimulating: March 23’s webinar will be a conversation on navigating histories in audience engagement; April 6’s will discuss engaging audiences with disabilities, with insight from Millersville University on their partnership with AXIS Dance Company; April 20’s will be on maintaining audiences year after year, with Jacob’s Pillow and others. Later discussions in May will tackle building audiences locally and engaging youth through dance.
Whether you’re directly a small company or dancing in a big one, it sounds like this series has valuable information and inspiration for everyone.
Source: Dance Magazine